,n B. POLEVOI 40 sat down now he would never get up again. He cast a longing glance around him. By the roadside stood a voung, curly pine tree. Mustering his last ounce of strength, Alexei stepped towards it and flung himself upon it. His chin rested on the fork of the branches. This took some of the weight off his fractured feet and he felt a little relief. He leaned against the springy branches and enjoyed the repose. Wishing to make himself more comfortable, he stretched one leg and then the other, still keeping his chin on the fork of the tree, and his feet, completely relieved of the weight of his body, were easily lifted out of the snow-drift. A brilliant idea struck him. "Why, of course! It would be easy to cut down this small tree, lop off the branches, leaving the fork, throw the staff forward, rest my chin on the fork and transfer the weight of my body to it, and then throw my feet for- ward, just as I am doing now. It will be slow going. Yes, slow, of course, but I won't get so tired, and I will be able to push on without having to wait until the snow-drifts harden." He dropped to his knees, cut the young tree down with his dirk, lopped off the branches, wound his pocket handkerchief and bandages round the crutch and set off at once. He threw the staff forward, rested his hands and chin upon the fork, put one foot forward and then the other, threw the staff forward again and took another two steps forward. And so he kept on, counting the paces and fixing a new rate of progress for himself. No doubt an onlooker would have thought it strange to see a man wandering through the dense forest in this queer fashion, moving over deep snow-drifts at a snail's pace, pushing on from sunrise to sunset and covering no more than five kilometres. But the only witnesses of this strange proceeding were the magpies; and having con- vinced themselves of the utter harmlessness of this strange three-legged, clumsy animal, they did not fly away at his approach, but merely hopped reluctantly out of his ^ way, cocked their heads and gazed mockingly at him with their black, inquisitive, beady eyes.